GLASGOW Rocks made a fourth-quarter surge to earn a 78-71 victory over Worthing Thunder on Saturday, and deny Thunder back-to-back home wins in the BBL Championship.
Thunder returned to Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday to play the second game of a gruelling BBL Championship double-header, having lost 116-78 at Leicester Riders the previous night.
A noisy crowd packed the Leisure Centre, as the team was led out by honorary mascot Jamie Colwell (see page three). But Glasgow started faster as Mike Copeland scored the opening six points.
Thunder moved the ball around well but failed to convert their early chances, until a tactical shift by coach Gary Smith allowed James Brame and Marlin Capers to find their shooting range.
Thunder ended the first quarter three points behind, but a quick score by Adam Williams brought them back level. Williams was coming off a game-high 28-point performance at Leicester, and was influential again as Thunder stormed 34-32 ahead.
At this point, former Brighton Bear Stirling Davis was not enjoying his return to Sussex, but the Rocks’ coach used his time-outs well and a stunning pass by Scott Russell allowed EJ Harrison to give Glasgow a 38-36 half-time lead.
Rocks started the second-half well, establishing an eight-point lead, before Thunder’s bench came to the fore. Cleve Woodfork nailed some big dunks and Worthing’s defence held Glasgow to 10 points in eight minutes, as Thunder established a three-point lead. Scores continued to go back-and-forth and, as the fourth quarter began, the crowd sensed an upset as Capers tied the game at 57-a-piece.
Unfortunately for Thunder, fatigue started to set in and Rock’s Nick Livas made a stunning hustle-play, smashing the backboards to set up BBL legend Harrison and give Glasgow an ultimately insurmountable eight-point lead.
After the game, Smith said “I’m happy with the performance, if not the result.
“We played tough out there, and had opportunities to win but we’re just missing the little things. Rocks got four scores thanks to good hustle, and that was the difference at the end. If we keep performing like this, I’m sure we can get three or four more wins and end on a high note.”
Woodfork top-scored for Thunder with 17 points and said: “We played hard tonight against good opponents and had our chances to win. We just need that mental toughness to close out tight games, then we’ll start picking up more wins.”
Williams added 17 and Prezzie-Blue 14 for Thunder, but the game’s outstanding player was Rocks’ guard Livas, who hit 19 points and a double-double.
On Friday, Thunder had just six players who got court time and Williams sank 28 points against his former side, Leicester. Pepe Zafirov added 17 points and had 10 rebounds, and Prezzie-Blue and Woodfork both scored 16.
Ryan Zamroz led the way with 25 points for Riders, who won all four quarters.
Worthing host Mersey on Saturday and travel to bottom-of-the-table Essex, looking to win the head-to-head battle, on Sunday.